HSPA+ Multiflow Lets Your Phone Talk to Two Towers at Once

With Mobile World Congress just around the corner, we're expecting a deluge of smartphones and tablets to be unveiled in the next couple of weeks. However, MWC isn't just about phones, it's about all things mobile. As such, Nokia Siemens has plans to show off something else entirely at at the conferences.

The company yesterday unveiled HSPA+ Multiflow, a technology that allows your phone to talk to two cell phone towers at once. HSPA+ Multiflow means that when located close to the edge of a mobile base station's cell, your phone can connect to a second base station serving a neighboring cell enabling a second path for data to reach the device. The feature promises to make more efficient use of networks' resources while delivering up to double the data speed and 50 percent faster responses when compared to existing HSPA+ networks.

"With 100 million smart devices being added every month, we see a consequent increase in 'smart' applications that make use of their advanced capabilities. Not only is network traffic rising dramatically, much of it is also unpredictable in nature, and this can impact user experience," said Keith Sutton, head of the WCDMA business line for Nokia Siemens Networks. "This is where HSPA+ Multiflow helps operators – it reduces imbalances that typically occur in network resource usage, and increases HSPA+ speed and capacity."

Nokia Siemens is planning a live demonstration for MWC attendees. This will be based on Nokia Siemens Networks' commercial Single RAN offering and Qualcomm's prototype USB dongles. Nokia Siemens said in a release today that it expects HSPA+ Multiflow to be 3GPP standardized by mid 2012 and available commercially from Nokia Siemens Networks by second half of 2013.

Follow @JaneMcEntegart on Twitter for the latest news.      

  • abel2
    While this technology sounds nice, until service providers actually increase the number or capacity of towers, this just seems like a potential burden. Of course when they do increase the number of towers, their rates will go up.

    Looks like a double-edged sword to me.
  • TwoDigital
    Is this "new" just for data or just for the TDMA/GSM users out there? Voice CDMA is BUILT around redundant signals on multiple towers. I helped build the CDMA network in 3 of the 10 largest U.S. CDMA metro markets between 1996 and 2000... Find the CDMA spec (wikipedia even?) and look up "multipath." It's one of the biggest advantages of CDMA over TDMA/GSM for voice calls.
  • Lekko
    How does this affect battery life? Wouldn't using two simultaneous 4G radios drain your battery twice as fast? Also, using it as a repeater would just eat batteries for no benefit to the person whose phone is being converted into a mini repeater tower.
  • freggo
    A few days ago we had an article telling us how we are running out of bandwidth.
    Now we get photos that tie up 2 towers -and frequency bands- at the same time.

    Somehow my logic processor is beginning to overheat. :-)

  • Funny that CDMA has been doing this since the 90s... but GSM is an older standard. DO-Advanced from Qualcomm also does EVDO (3G) data load sharing between towers-- ALL CDMA phone connect to multiple towers simultaneously already-- and always have.
  • TheKurrgan
    This concept is not as bad as it sounds from a tower utilization perspective. The WCDMA standard is wasteful in spectrum terms, so this will actually help make up for it. Since it will be splitting the load, it would be easy to use this to throttle a phone to a neighboring tower that may not be as busy, while not diminishing overly much the quality of service. However, in situations where towers are ALL full, the effect will be minimal. Ala, San Francisco / New York.
    This is all just a band-aid any way. GSM carriers in north america have completely missed the first LTE boat, which is the future of wireless. That said, it is also royally screwed in north america as the spectrum is so heavily divided, and there isnt even a standardization of the exact technology being used.
    Thus, LTE will be more fragmented than any other wireless standard in the US, and as such will likely end up with Verizon owning the market by attrition from others having not jumped in early.
    That doesnt benefit us as consumers however.
    Frankly, as much as I am opposed to this, cellular networks need to be controlled by a single body at the spectrum level, and let the carriers do what they need to in order to provide service and still be competitive. With even 4 big carriers all trying to use a very limited amount of spectrum, serving large metropolitan areas well is hard, especially with WCDMA.